Last year, when I attended the UUMN conference in Dallas, I faithfully blogged about the experience every night. This year, I purposefully left my laptop at home. I didn't miss my laptop at all, but I wasn't able to blog. I did take notes. This and the next few articles will describe my time at this year's conference, which was held in San Diego.
On my minister's orders, I arrived in San Diego a day early to enjoy the city. There is so much to do in San Diego. I knew that if I tried to do it all, I would have been toast before the conference even began, so I just did a couple things. It just so happened that my biggest music engraving client, the Neil A. Kjos Music Company, was located 5 minutes from my hotel. The editor to whom I most often report, Ryan, picked me up at the hotel and took me on a tour of Kjos, where I met other members of the editorial staff and visited the warehouse and the printing press. It was pretty cool to walk by stacks of concert band music that I had engraved. I used to work for a small music publisher, so I was somewhat familiar with the equipment, but I wasn't prepared for the enormity of their main printing press. When I worked at Mark Foster Music Company, the press occupied one small room. The printing press at Kjos was huge! It was at least 100 feet long. It was amazing to watch it in action.
I realize that visiting a music publishing company isn't exactly a "San Diego-ish" thing to do, but I enjoyed the tour immensely. It was also nice to meet the folks at Kjos in person. All of my work with the company has been handled through email and by phone. After the tour, Ryan treated me to a seafood lunch and then dropped me off at the San Diego Zoo at my request. I spent the rest of the afternoon at the zoo and then took a cab back to the hotel.
That was the end of my free day. The next day was Professional Development Day. I didn't get as much out of Pro Development Day as last year, when we explored creative problem solving in the workplace. This year's theme centered around Unitarian Universalist musical heritage. It was okay, even fun at times, but to be honest, it felt like we spent 5 hours patting ourselves on the back in the guise of exploring our motives behind making music. That's just my personal opinion. I'm sure others got a lot out of it. I think I am more driven by intuition and feeling than the average person, but I'm much more driven by logic and problem solving than most musicians, or at least most UU church musicians.
That being said, there were some beautiful moments in Pro Development Day, particularly whenever we sang. There's nothing like being in a room full of musicians singing their hearts out. The emotional impact of this took me completely by surprise last year, when I could hardly sing because I kept choking up. I was braced for it this year, but it didn't lessen the beauty of the moments when we all sang.
Early in the conference, I realized one thing: I would never eat alone. Breakfast? I sat down alone with my eggs and bacon. Two bites into my meal, I heard the words "may I join you?" Next thing you know, the table is full. Lunch? Same thing. For an introvert like myself, this was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the thought of actually conversing with someone, especially at 6 a.m., filled me a certain amount of anxiety. On the other hand, I was partly at the conference to make connections, which is super easy when you are surrounded by gregarious musicians.
The first full day of the conference began the next day. This would turn out to be a truly marvelous few days, as you will see in the next articles.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.